Chances are you know how this post will start…..
It was called ‘Don’t Say That!’ A story set during an art lesson at school.
Johnny was painting a picture of a dragon.
His friend leaned across to look at the painting – and laughed!
‘That doesn’t look like a dragon,’ he said.
We stopped the story at this point. How would you feel if someone said that to you?
Well of course we all agreed that it wouldn’t be a very nice feeling. We’d feel sad. Maybe even angry…..
‘Don’t say that,’ said Johnny. He certainly felt angry, didn’t he!
You can imagine from the illustration what might have happened next; a conflict about to lead to fighting.
Fast-forward to the end of the story (as with most stories, it had a happy ending, you’ll be pleased to know) and on to what we did next. The instruction was to get together with two classmates (yes, that’s three people in all) without a fuss (no conflicts if you please!)…..and my goodness me, something must have stuck. I heard helpful words such as ‘would you like to be with me?’ and ‘can we be together?’ and even ‘you can come with us.’ Eighteen divided into six groups of three – in a flash!
Once we had formed our groups, our task was to replay the story but to try and solve it without the conflict getting out of control; by using helpful rather than hurtful words so that no-one would feel sad or angry.
Here then, is a taste of what happened in our versions of the story. As you will see there were lots of different routes to the mostly successful outcomes!
Poor Melchior tried his best but his dragon just didn’t make the grade as far as Bianca was concerned. She said some hurtful words.
‘Stop!’ shouted Melchior. ‘Don’t say that!’
‘I’m sorry,’ Bianca told him.
‘We got friends again,’ announced Melchior, smiling. ‘Let’s tell the teacher.’
Ms Tanisha, the teacher was pleased. ‘Well done,’ she told them. ‘You solved it.’ And so they had!
Next up, Emily and Itaru, who likewise had a bit of a disagreement over what made a ‘good’ dragon painting.
Enter Mr Nicholas. ‘If you can’t solve it, you will have to go outside!’ he announced. Hmm. Wonder where he might have heard that one before!
It had the required effect on Emily. ‘I know,’ she said. ‘Let’s colour together.’ After which there were smiles - not to mention beautiful dragons - all round.
Luna had the sharp tongue in our next role-play.
‘Stop! It’s not nice,’ said Ella.
Along came Ms Lakeisha. ‘Let’s solve the problem,’ she told them. ‘You will go to the baby class.’ To Luna. Crestfallen.
Now, I am not sure that this is quite what I had in mind…..what do you think? How would Luna feel about that? OK so she said some unkind things, but I wonder; how might we replay it so that everyone ends up feeling OK?
Another less than sympathetic teacher in this one too. Mr Yanis, I am afraid, agreed that Yousouf’s painting was not quite up to standard! ‘It’s scribble,’ he said. Cue Joseph. Who noticed that Yousouf now feels very sad. ‘Would you like me to help you?’ he asks.
Tim took on the role of meanie in this next one. Poor Hiromi was quite upset!
But quick as a flash, Ms Mélina realised the effect of his hurtful words. ‘It does look like a dragon,’ she assured her. Phew!
Similarly, Anusha played the role of a supportive teacher in her skit. Aalian and Youssef ended up perfectly happy following their little fracas. How well she had explained things to them.
The reason for all of this? Well, I for one am going to be keeping an eye open for principled children; children who can work and play together without conflicts arising; children who know right from wrong, and who can do the right thing even if no-one is watching. And I shall be keeping my ears open too, for helpful rather than hurtful words.
What about you; can you too be on the look-out for people working and playing together peacefully? And how about telling me when you hear someone using helpful words? You might even tell them too. After all, it is always nice to know that you are doing the right thing…..